DAVOS (Switzerland): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrived here yesterday to attend the 33rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum which aims to lay the groundwork for worldwide sustained growth and development.
The meeting, from yesterday to Tuesday, has the theme “Building Trust,” considered the key to achieving its objectives.
It will look into ways to evaluate risks and identify new opportunities effectively, focusing mainly on six main areas relating to business, development, economics, leadership, security and values.
The meeting, held amid tight security, is attended by about 150 key political leaders, including US Secretary of State Colin Powell and 40 senior religious leaders.
According to press reports, the reinforced security cost US$10mil (RM38mil) and involves some 2,000 police and military personnel here and more in other cities.
Anti-globalisation demonstrators, whose protests at past meetings had turned ugly, will be allowed an orderly weekend march.
Soon after arrival, Dr Mahathir took part in the opening plenary session on “Trust and Governance for a New Era.”
In an interview with Global Agenda, the inaugural official issue of the World Economic Forum, Dr Mahathir said the perception that Muslims generally were being mistreated was gaining ground, but Muslims must condemn terrorism because it was against their religion.
The root causes of Sept 11 lay in the conflicts and the impressions by Muslims that they were being oppressed, particularly in Palestine.
“Of course, in other countries also they feel they are being oppressed - including in Chechnya, or in Kashmir.
“Whether it is correct or not correct is irrelevant because it is their impression,” he said.
He said that more people were becoming sympathetic to the plight of the Muslims because since the Sept 11 attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had gone all out to hit back at terrorists and increased acts of terror against the Palestinians.
On criticism that he had used the events since Sept 11 as a pretext to suppress political opposition, he said “it was in the interests of our country that we put an end to any threat of violence or the use of violence to overthrow the Government.
“The opposition party can use their misinformation in order to gain support. But if they should resort to violent tactics to try and overthrow the Government by force of arms, we'll act against them.”
In another development, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia's success in maintaining relative harmony was what he was most proud of during his tenure as prime minister.
He said he was happy that he had been able to continue preserving racial harmony, which was the result of the first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.
“I have been able to continue with that. That is a very tough thing.''
On whether he had any regrets, he said he had none, but added that at times he felt frustrated because “I cannot change the mindset of my own people.”
Dr Mahathir said that if he had been able to achieve his objectives earlier, he would have stepped down sooner.
On whether he was concerned that he had become a crutch for Malaysians, who perhaps were worried about how they would be able to carry on without him, he said: “I don't think I'm a crutch.”
On good governance, he said the most important thing was to do things “that are good for the people.”
“You can be a democratic government (that) ends up in anarchy. On the other hand, you may have a system that might be slightly less than perfect, but the result is the well-being of the people, the well-being of the country's economic growth.''